When the “ber” months start, Filipinos, especially those in the provinces, get ready for the Christmas season.
One of the traditions in the country, where Christmas is celebrated the longest, is making Christmas decors, especially lanterns called “parol” that are made of paper and bamboo sticks.
Carmen Carillo, 55, has been a “parol” maker for more than 40 years. She said preparing the materials for the lantern usually starts in March.
The bamboo sticks are used as frames for the lantern, which is most of the time shaped as a five-pointed star.
The bamboo sticks have to be aged for it to last longer, said Carillo.
By the middle of the year, Carillo, a mother of five and who makes parol making a livelihood, starts buying old newspapers, adhesives and other materials for the lantern.
By September, the lantern frames are ready and the difficult task of pasting color paper starts.
Carillo said she learned the craft from her parents and grandparents and started making lanterns when she was still young.
“My sisters are also into this business,” she said. They sell the lanterns around the city, but regular buyers also come even from other provinces.
By the first week of December, after making about 10,000 pieces of lanterns, Carillo and her family stop production.
She said she does not make much money compared to the other lantern makers, “only enough to buy ‘noche buena’ and gifts for the children on Christmas.”
“Noche buena” is a sumptuous meal shared by family and friends after the midnight Mass on Christmas.